Mid-Atlantic Wind Training Alliance Established in Virginia

A workforce training collaborative has been established in the U.S. State of Virginia to offer certifications required for operations and maintenance of offshore and onshore wind farms.

The Mid-Atlantic Wind Training Alliance, announced by Virginia’s Governor Ralph Northam on 14 October, will bring courses certified by the Global Wind Organization (GWO) and wind technician training from the National Center for Construction, Education, and Research.

The Alliance has been created by New College Institute, Centura College and the Mid-Atlantic Maritime Academy, and will support offshore and onshore wind projects in Virginia and the U.S. Mid-Atlantic region, with New College Institute serving as the host institution.

“There is currently massive potential for offshore wind up and down the East Coast, and we look forward to working with our partners across Virginia and in neighboring states to grow this industry and reap the tremendous economic benefits for our communities, especially those that have been historically disadvantaged”, Governor Northam said.

When it comes to offshore wind in the Mid-Atlantic region, Dominion Energy and Avangrid Renewables have developments underway that could see 400 wind turbines being installed off the coast of Virginia and North Carolina.

Dominion Energy’s Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind (CVOW) pilot project comprising two wind turbines is about to enter commercial operation. The project will also serve as a base for a much larger 2.6 GW development the company plans to realise by 2026.

Avangrid is developing its Kitty Hawk offshore wind project off North Carolina at a lease site that could accommodate up to 2.5 GW of offshore wind capacity. Site investigations are currently ongoing at the Kitty Hawk area.

“The formation of the Mid-Atlantic Wind Training Alliance is a critical step to developing a talented offshore wind workforce here in Virginia”, said Josh Bennett, Vice President of Offshore Wind for Dominion Energy.

“As Avangrid Renewables builds the future of clean energy offshore, establishing the workforce that will maintain and operate these projects for decades will be critical”, said Eric Thumma, Interim Vice President of Offshore Wind for Avangrid Renewables. “The Mid-Atlantic Wind Training Alliance will facilitate the development of that workforce and the success of the offshore wind industry”.

Training programmes will range from specific certifications to a year-long wind turbine technician program that bundles several industry-recognized certifications and prepares students to serve as certified installation technicians, inspectors, and maintenance technicians, according to a press release from the Virginia State Government.

The programmes are planned to be offered as of early 2021.

“Wind turbine technicians are America’s fastest growing career and today’s foresighted move to train additional workers in this field shows that the Commonwealth continues to lead our nation toward a cleaner and more prosperous energy future”, said Tom Kiernan, American Wind Energy Association CEO.